God Grew Tired of Us Enlightens and Entertains
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, God Grew Tired of Us is the story of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”. The film follows three of the boys, documenting their run from the dangers of civil war, to their life in a U.N. refugee camp, through the adventure of relocating to the United States.
The “Lost Boys” are the thousands of youths forced to flee from southern Sudan during the long civil war, pitting the Muslim government against black Christians in the south. The war (1983-2005) killed almost 2 million people and displaced over 4 million Sudanese. Traveling over 1000 miles, losing family members to war, facing starvation and seeing more than half of their fellow refugees die in their midst, the remaining boys finally find shelter at a refugee camp in Kenya.
The film focuses on the stories of three young men at the camp – Daniel, Panther and John. These three are among a few dozen men who are selected to relocate to the United States after spending more than a decade in the refugee camp.
The film does a good job of documenting the story and examining the horrific trials that the youths faced leaving Sudan. But the majority of the film is dedicated to watching through the three protagonists’ eyes as they embark on a new life in America.
As viewers, we get to witness the boys as they encounter electricity, running water, grocery stores, prepackaged foods, escalators and a host of modern marvels unbeknownst in their homeland of Africa. The boys are required to obtain work and must begin supporting themselves within months after arriving in America.
As the boys learn to adjust to the American culture in which they are placed, I was struck by both the strength of their spirit and the hollowness of American culture. Each boy finds meaning in working hard to be able to support their brothers who are left back in Africa. They seem to relish the opportunity to give back and do something for their community, even as struggle with loneliness and the adjustments necessary in their new land.
We also get a rare glimpse of ourselves through these outside eyes. The recognition of the unfriendliness and fear that permeates US city life, the separation within a home due to long workdays and differing schedules, show the true personal cost that our luxury requires.
God Grew Tired of Us is a great documentary, and a very well made film. I found myself moved to compassion for the plight of the “Lost Boys”, found a new appreciation for the simplest of luxuries that we take for granted, and felt ashamed of the emptiness of personal relationships that is such a growing part of modern America. God Grew Tired of Us is equally entertaining and enlightening, and is highly recommended.
by David Edmisten